Powell concedes Iraq evidence may have been wrong

Okay, so what are the implications? On US Politics? On international diplomacy? On our moral position in Iraq? On the state of US Intelligence?

Okay, so what are the implications?

I think it is a step in the right direction. I think that unfortunately, with as heated as this issue has become, it was/is a damned if you do/damned if you don’t proposition.

I sincerely doubt that those who have been screaming that “if they’d just admit they made a mistake” are now going to somehow be satisified with this.

On US Politics?

Depends really. Clearly, Kerry and Company are going to jump all over it for gain. Clearly, Bush and Company are going to jump all over it for gain. Both will spin it for mass-consumption and will it change anything? Republicans who ignored/denied this possibility because it was an accusation by “the left” have no choice but to accept it and embrace it and use it against “the left” to justify their continued support of Bush. (In other words, “See, they admitted to mistakes so you have no arguement!”) Democrats who presented this as proof “the right” lied, etc., will continue in their fervor and it will be one more justification to continue support of Anybody But Bush. Either way, both camps will vote for their guy.

The moderates are the real question. Will they care? I think most of the undecided already, at some level, believe they were lied to but want to hope that they were not deceived. This will most likely push them one way or the other.

On international diplomacy?

Definitely a positive first step in the right direction. Clearly international diplomacy is a far more subtle and nuanced game than sound-bite politics during an election year. I hope this will lower-tensions on the international stage to a certain degree.

On our moral position in Iraq?

Irrelevant. That fact is we are in Iraq now.

Dick Cheney could hold a press conference tomorrow, state emphatically that his guilt cannot be lived with any longer, and admit to a global conspiracy started by President Bush involving sodomizing small children of intelligence officials to obtain the needed information to implicate Iraq of being an “imminent threat” which was confirmed by sacred blood rituals to Satan and that the whole thing should have never happened.

That does not change one bit the fact that we are there, if we leave now untold harm, death, destruction and destabilization will occur. Do we stop hunting the insurgents there because of this? No. Do we stop working towards a new government there because of this? No. Do we stop trying to open schools, repair infrastructure, etc.? No.

Naturally, the Iraqis may think differently with this news but whatchagonnado? I hope, with the admission and potential improvement in international diplomacy, it helps smooth the way to more U.N. involvement.

On the state of US Intelligence?

Well, it certainly puts another nail in the coffin that is already 3/4th in the ground from the string of previous errors and in-fighting. I’m sure, with this actual admission, it’ll turn the heat up more on (hopefully?) fixing the root source of the problems in the intelligence biz.


It means other nations should adopt the same stance towards the U.S. in this area that Reagan took towards the USSR on nuclear disarmament: “Trust, but verify.” In other words, we can no longer accept the word of the United States without independent corroboration. :frowning:

I’m guessing Powell’s statement was prompted by someone in Germany stirring the pot:

But this stuff about Chalabi’s pals feeding bullshit to the US isn’t really new. It’s been kicking around for quite a while. I can remember hearing these specific allegations (the supposed “Iraqi defector” being the brother of one of Chalabi’s aides) back in January or February.

Apparently, no one in the entire world, including the US itself believes the stuff that comes from the US:

A bit more background, for the morbidly curious. First, from the Washington Post:

These guys sure seemed to miss a lot of those warnings regarding dubious intelligence, didn’t they?

The LA Times has a rundown on the second source mentioned above, who’s code name, ironically, was “Curveball”:

(Apologies to the mods for the extensive quotation, hope I haven’t overdone it.)

Finally, from the Guardian:

Finally: curse thee, Desmostylus!


With regard to the implications, it is, for me, just one more piece of evidence of the current administration’s mendacity. Domestically, the revelations ought to be yet another volley against Bush & Co.’s credibility, but then again, by any reasonable standard, their credibility should be in the toilet already. It continues to astound me to no end that Americans haven’t started clamoring for an impeachment, given the things that have come to light since May of last year.

Internationally, the row between the CIA and BND might have some serious repercussions on intelligence sharing between the two. I would guess that European intelligence communities are going align themselves with the BND against the US and it may widen the gap between Europe and the US even more. It will probably have a negative effect on the international perception of US intelligence, which (as Desmo has pointed out) already has a bad rep after the spectacular Iraq WMD fiasco.

Yeah, I just read

and thought to myself “No shit!”. The government just now realises this? Where have they been all this time?

It bothers me extremely that people still justify the war saying “but everyone at the time believed it” which is, of course, extremely untrue. It is now cognitive dissonance week. If everybody had believed that the USA would have got support from the UN. The fact is they were not convinced and that is one reason support was denied at the time. But they take us for idiots and say “but at the time you also believed this”. Um, no. No we didn’t. We told you that you were less than convincing.

I take it as Powell seeing what happened to Condi and starting to distance himself from Bush. I wonder if he is getting ready to run against Kerry in 2008?

I have always been against the war with Iraq, short of having international support, specifically the approval of the UNSC.

However, posts on this board will prove that I believed that Iraq had WoMD.

Many of those same posts show that I only reached that conclusion based on my faith in the integrity of Dubya and the statements coming from the administration. I simply assumed that they must have some rock solid evidence to be making the statements they were making.

I now see how naive I was to believe them.

Typical. They’re 8 or 9 months behind in analyzing what they call a major front in the war on terror. It’s just more of the same denial bit that they were doing in re al Qaeda before 9/11. Nothing has changed.

Actually my post was very poorly worded (as many of my posts are because I do not feel it is worth the effort to review them several times). I was referring to the nations at the UN saying that, not to posters here saying that. I can see it was poorly worded. What I was trying to say is that, when the USA said to other nations “take our word”, the other nations said “no, show us the evidence” and then they found the evidence to be less than convincing. They were never convinced but many people now are trying to say “everybody” thought Saddam was a huge threat. Well, no, the reason all those nations refused to support the aggression is because they were not convinced by the evidence presented by the USA. I can understand an individual who may choose to trust his leader but nations should not do that.

In the latest gaffe Spain, right after the terrorist attacks, asked the UNSC to issue a condemnation of ETA and most countries balked saying there was no evidence it had been ETA who had done it. Spain asked the USA for help, some arms were twisted and on the word of Spain the resolution was passed. Of course, in just a few days it became clear ETA was NOT behind the attacks and Spain had to present a letter of apology to the UNSC which now looked like fools for trusting Spain and the USA. Countries should not trust each other blindly.

Why does evidence have to be “rock solid”?
If you have reasonable evidence that the trucks you see in satellite photos are full of germ weapons ,because a defector (Curveball) who was there personally and has more direct, first-hand knowlege about the trucks than any other person in the western world, can you afford NOT to believe him? There is blatant hypocrisy among the left-wingers: they proudly condemn Bush for not taking action on a vague warning by a low-ranking FBI agent in Arizona about suspicious people taking pilots lessons in Florida.But when he did take action on a specific warning (by Curveball), he is condemned for believing it.

It would be nice if spying was a precise science --but in war, you can’t always have scientific proof. Bush had to make a difficult judgement about whether to eliminate a cruel dictator who had used WMD in the past and apparently had WMD now.It’s not a responsibility that I would want to have on my shoulders.But after 9/11 the president preferred to start a war on his own terms, rather than wait for us to get hit by the enemy.You may disagree with him-- that’s why we have elections every 4 years. But I dont think Bush acted in bad faith, or intentionally lied. He had contradictory information, and had to decide which evidence to act on.

(For me, the best evidence was a tape the Powell played for the UN in February, where we clearly heard an Iraqi officer radio a colleague saying “Blix and his inspectors are on the way, so hurry up and hide that stuff”)

It is not that it was not “rock solid”. It is that it was so shitty the rest of the world thought it did not justify the war. And they were right. And Powell now concedes that. Which seems more than you are willing to do.

Well, that’s always a good excuse to invade a country and kill people. “Hey, they were hiding something!”. :rolleyes:

Domestically, I don’t think it will make that big an impact. And that is absolutely terrifying - I mean, to think that about 50% of the population thinks it is peachy keen for the government to lie to the people and the international community, then invade another country without even establishing a reason or investigating or questioning their intelligence. I mean, these are largely the same people who were claiming that Clinton was going to use FEMA to declare himself king because he lied about getting a blowjob.

Internationally, well, despite the fact that our reputation is now in “junk bond” status, it will only get worse. This administration is going to take a long time to “get over.” He probably just ensured conflict for at least another 40 years, until this generation grows up and loses power. Their opinions on America won’t die easily, and we’ll have to deal with it.

Clearly, it doesn’t. For myself, if we are to get on with the business of making people dead, I would prefer that such evidence rise above hearsay. Your mileage, apparently, varies.

Well, being human, we of the perfidious left are not immune to hypocrisy. But there is a crucial distinction that clearly eludes you. It would have been a simple matter to follow up on the FBI agent’s report, it took place here. As for the aptly yclept Curveball, news reports imply that his credibility was thought shaky, yet his accusations were taken for Gospel. He may be a splendid fellow, simply dripping with credibility and gravitas. So too, for a time, was Colin Powell.

I, for one, have had quite enough of faith-based foreign policy.

From your lips… There is stark truth therein. If we install this pack of chucklewitted goons for another four years, we deserve whatever they do to us.

Again, a glancing brush with reality. Have you reviewed Mr. Powell’s speech lately? Do so. In his preferatory remarks, he correctly identified the Secretary General and the other diplomatic participants. From that point on, nary a grain of truth passed his lips.

The conclusion pains me, but there is no other: Mr. Powell is a whore, in the service of pimps. Of late, in an excercise in neutron density understatement, he admits that the evidence was not “rock solid”. Indeed.

It is only hypocrisy for those who are incapable of understanding “subtle” distinctions like the difference between the standard of evidence necessary to conduct an investigation and have law enforcement interview some people and the standard of evidence necessary to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and many lives to invade another country.

Not to mention the jump from Saddam possibly possessing some of these weapons to this representing a real credible threat to the U.S.

(My guess is also that the reports about suspicious people taking pilots lessons might have had more credibility in terms of coming from sources without a specific axe to grind than the reports of “Curveball”.)

P.S. - I should add that as one of those “left wingers”, I remain somewhat ambivalent about whether the Bush Administration should/could have done a lot more before 9/11 to prevent the attacks because I do recognize the advantages of hindsight.

However, given that this Administration and its supporters (read Sam Stone for example) have pretty much built its whole raison-d’etre on its brilliant response to the 9/11 attacks, I do think it is only reasonable that these issues be fully investigated and that the views of those like Clarke who think the Administration was pretty much asleep on the job in the first 9 months be fully aired.

Powell is a problem guy for the administration. He’s a problem guy because he clearly doesn’t like to mislead, doesn’t like to attack. I tihnk he’s still around for the same reason Tenet is still around: they would do incredible damage to Bush’s administration if they could speak openly and weren’t obligated to defend their boss.

I’m sorry, but comparing a field report from an FBI agent to a unstable and know fabricator they KNEW was untrustworthy is plain ridiculous. If you know anything about how intelligence works, you know that you get all sorts of contradictory info from people trying to spin us this way or that. The real work comes in working to confirm or disconfirm claims. And this guy, along with inexplicably-still-on-our-payroll Chowbee, have had a long history of lying to us for their own profit.